Tottenham Hotspur have been eliminated from Champions League
The damage was done very early in the season for Tottenham Hotspur who managed to win only three of their first twelve matches before Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino. With only 13 points from those 12 matches, things looked pretty bleak for Spurs and any kind of European competition in 2020-21 seemed laughable. However, Tottenham Hotspur have managed to win 7 of their last 13 matches including four since the re-start making Europa League a remote possibility. So what has to happen from here?
Who Qualifies for What in Europe?
The formula is relatively simple, finish top 4 and you typically end up in the Champions League the following season and then 5th place gets Europa League. At this point in the season with 4th and 5th both on 62 points Spurs cannot catch either Leicester City or Manchester United, although they can still potentially hurt Leicester’s chances of going to the top dance with a victory on Sunday. With the regular places essentially gone, in come the special clauses that lead to additional Premier League entries into European competition.
Another path to Europa League is to win a domestic Cup, which Manchester City has already done with a Carabao Cup victory over Aston Villa in March. Since City has already qualified for the more prestigious Champions League finishing second in the Premier League, their spot effectively goes to the 6th place team – currently Wolverhampton Wanders. Wolves are one point in front of Spurs meaning any kind of slip up from the Wanders with Spurs getting maximum points to help assure entry into the Europa League.
Besides the Carabao Cup Champion entering European competition, so too does the winner of the FA Cup. While one finalist will be either Manchester United or Chelsea – two teams potentially already qualified – allowing the 7th placed team in the Premier League entry into Europa League. Spurs currently sit seventh as if either United or Chelsea win the FA Cup and the standings stay the same Spurs make it to Europe.
However, the other finalist could spoil things, as Arsenal managed more shots (4) versus Manchester City in their 2-0 victory in the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium than they had in their previous 3 matches against City (3). Since Arsenal is NOT in front of Spurs and already qualified for Europe, if they do manage to win the FA Cup – something they have done a record 13 times – then Arsenal goes to Europa League and 7th place goes home. Oh, how that would fluff the feathers of the Gunner faithful to win silverware and knock Spurs out of Europe all at once – despite likely finishing below Tottenham in the League table and Noth London being Lillywhite. I’m not usually a United or Chelsea fan, but I can promise you I will be when the final comes.
What Can Change the Formula?
The other potential wildcards that could impact who ultimately gets to play for what next season is the fact that whoever wins the Champions League and Europa League automatically qualify for Champions League the next season.
City and Chelsea, with City already qualified as the second-place team and Chelsea in a position of finishing no worse than 5th at this point in the Premier League.
In other words, even if Chelsea or City win the Champions League this season, it should not negatively impact Spurs as they can’t make any of the top 5 spots anyway.
But there is also Europa League and both Manchester United and Wolves are still in the competition.
Given no more than 5 teams from the Premier League can go to the Champions League if Wolves win they will then push either of Leicester, United, or Chelsea – whoever finishes 5th – down to Europa League along with the sixth-place team, leaving 7th out of the competition. UEFA rules say only seven total teams in European competition from a single league.
All this goes to say, the best thing Spurs can do is get six points to finish on 61 and hope for the best. Nothing is in Spurs control except the two games in front of them, Leicester City, and Palace. Win those and we can at least feel good about how things end – regardless of the European results – remember once upon a time Spurs had 13 points after 12 matches and were on the way to relegation. But as of today the dream is still alive and takes six points and anything can happen.